By Harry Ewbank – @HreEwbank
After a busy pre-season the Reds finally get back to competitive action on Sunday, facing the all-conquering Manchester City for the first chance of silverware in the new season.
To many neutrals the Community Shield can be seen as yet another friendly building up to the Premier League season. However, this is Liverpool’s chance to make a mark and end City’s domestic trophy reign, at least for now.
Guardiola’s blues became the first English team to win a domestic treble last season, easing to League Cup and FA Cup victories, although winning the league proved to be just a bit tougher! All in all, Liverpool pushed them to the edge but couldn’t dethrone the deserving team in the end.
That second-place finish qualifies Jurgen Klopp’s side for the final on Sunday, a match which can hopefully aid a return to fitness for many just five days before Liverpool face Norwich City in the Premier League opener.
A tough test awaits in a first appearance in the fixture since 2006, and a first final outing at Wembley since 2012. This should have little bearing on Sunday’s game as Liverpool bid to win the honour for the 16th time in a showpiece event which has been going for much longer than people may think…
111 years of rich history
The season curtain-raiser is nothing new and has, in fact, been played in its current format for a considerable amount of time. The Premier League and FA Cup winners are tied together each year. This year, and on many other occasions, the same team has won both.
Liverpool finished second in the league; hence they are the challengers to Manchester Citythis time around. In the competition’s early years, it tested many different formats including a battle fought between amateurs and professionals – a far cry from what it is today.
It was in 1921 where today’s system was first used, as Tottenham Hotspur defeated Burnley. A rich history and certainly for Liverpool as, since 1964, 21 finals and 15 wins have followed…
It’s safe to say the last decade hasn’t been the most illustrious for a football club rich with a trophy-laden history. After Champions League glory the tide does appear to be turning, nevertheless a return to this weekend’s final is thirteen years in the waiting.
Steven Gerrard had inspired the Reds to a sensational cup final victory over West Ham at the end of the 2005/06 season, meaning they would then face league winners Chelsea for the shield.
The new Wembley was still under construction, so the game was held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, though it does bring back fond memories of a late Peter Crouch winner against Jose Mourinho’s men.
After that, silverware avoided Anfield for seven years up until the Carling Cup victory in 2012 – come Sunday, fans will hope the game can trigger a memorable season rather than any repeat of that…
Over the last week nearly all Liverpool’s star men have finally made their way back to training, albeit Sadio Mané still hasn’t returned to training and looks set to miss the start of the season.
In the recent friendly victory against Lyon the Reds certainly looked sharper and the return of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino should raise morale. They have, however, had few minutes and it remains to be seen if they will have a major part to play against Manchester City.
There are many alternatives who have impressed during pre-season. The main name on fans lips of course is Divock Origi who will forever be heralded a hero for his exploits in Liverpool’s Champions League success, while young Rhian Brewster has bagged four goals in the summer.
On the other hand, some youngsters may not get the luxury of continuing to impress after the recent tours. Several youth players including Ki-Jana Hoever, Yasser Larouci and new boy Sepp van den Berg have left the training camp in Evian and will likely not feature in the squad on Sunday.